Moving Out and Starting Off in a Green Way

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by Donna Mazzitelli

This summer, my family is spreading its wings in some big ways. My twin daughters have both just moved out — one to attend college and the other to be closer to an artistic community. Since I don’t need such a large house, I’m downsizing.

With all of us relocating, we’ve had to look at a few issues. First, how to pack and move in an economical and “green” way. Secondly, how my adult children can continue to live “green” once they’ve left our home (where green was a way of life). Some of my suggestions will actually help them save money so they might continue to eat organically. And thirdly, how to adjust to living on their own.

Here are the tips I passed on to them:

The Move:

1.Go to Craig’s list or community board listings for free boxes and packing materials to move.

  1. Use towels, bedding, and clothing to wrap fragile items.

  2. If you must buy moving supplies, look for 100 percent recycled boxes as well as biodegradable packing materials and 100 percent or partially recycled packing materials.

  3. Plan to pass on all of your moving materials to someone else when you’re done with them. Again, list them online and/or on local community boards.

  4. If you’re moving close by, rent a truck for an afternoon and make your move in fewer trips than it will take to drive your car back and forth carrying multiple, smaller loads. It will take less time, less fuel, and less wear and tear on your vehicle.

  5. Whether you’re moving locally or far away, look for a rental truck that uses biodiesel fuel.

  6. Be sure to take with you only what you’ll need. Items that are in good condition and don’t have a strong sentimental value can be given away to a local shelter or one of the organizations that provide neighborhood pickups.

  7. As you clean up, you may find you have chemicals, old electronics, and old paints that need to be disposed of. Rather than throwing them in your trash, be sure to locate recycling centers where you can take them. Some places charge, but there are many that will take your old stuff for free. Certain neighborhoods have recycling centers and/or chemical and electronic roundup days.

In Your New Place:

Check with family members and close friends to see what they might have available to give to you. Mom, Grandma, or Aunt Mary may have extra dishes, utensils, towels, or bedding stored in their closets and cabinets. If they’ve recently purchased new small appliances and haven’t yet given away their older models, you can relieve them of their “old” stuff and get something “new” for your home.

  1. Check on Craig’s list for free or inexpensive items. Or comb through local thrift stores. Especially in college towns, you can find plenty of places offering items at economical prices.

  2. Clean primarily with homemade cleaning products. This will save you money and keep your home environment free from toxic chemicals:

• A package of white rags (or cut-up old towels) can be used for cleaning just about everywhere.

• Purchase a plastic spray water bottle and a gallon of distilled white vinegar. Make a mixture of half water half vinegar to use for cleaning everything including glass, mirrors, bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and kitchen counters. If the smell of vinegar (which does dissipate) bothers you, add your favorite anti-bacterial essential oil—such as lavender, orange, lemon, or peppermint.

• Purchase a box of Borax to use for cleaning the toilet bowl and any extra scouring needed in showers or tubs. Borax won’t scratch surfaces.

• Table salt works great for scouring pots. For heavier stuck-on, cooked-in food, use baking soda or Borax.

• Dust with a damp cloth.

  1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or, even better, LEDs. CFLs require less energy than incandescents, but LEDs are more efficient than CFLs and don’t contain mercury.

  2. Unplug appliances, electronics, and phone chargers when you’re not using them. Buy power strips to make unplugging several electronics at once a one-switch process.

  3. Carpool with others or use public transportation to get to and from school and your job.

  4. Plan your in-home meals ahead of time. Stretch your dollars by looking for recipes that allow you at least two meals from one dish.

  5. Limit your grocery shopping trips to once a week. Be sure to avoid shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll spend less money.

Support System: A bove all else, remember that your family and friends are there to offer support, whether it’s a good, home-cooked meal; companionship if you’re living on your own for the very first time; or a sounding board as you make your first independent decisions.

_Donna Mazzitelli was a contributing author to Speaking Your Truth, Vols. I and II. The Word Heartiste, Donna helps others connect to their stories and craft them with heart. She and partner Jordon Holiday recently co-founded Merry Dissonance Press, a place for writers and other creatives to make mirthful, discordant noise in the world. www.writingwithdonna.com, www.merrydissonancepress.com. _